Now That’s a Moon!

Just released today, this portrait of Saturn’s moon Mimas showcases its striking similarity to the Death Star (pre-proton torpedoes of course). The Cassini imaging team has been hard at work processing the images from last month’s flyby and the results sure don’t disappoint! On February 13 Cassini passed Mimas at a distance of 5,900 miles…

Deep Impacts

This just in, a late straggler from Cassini’s recent flyby of Mimas. It shows the northern region of the “other side” of Mimas opposite the moon’s signature Herschel crater. The sheer walls of some of the craters near the top left are 2-3 miles high – or deep, depending on how you look at it…

That’s No Moon…

…it’s a space sta– oh nevermind. It is a moon. 😉 Photos are in from Cassini’s flyby of Mimas on Saturday and they don’t disappoint! The 250-mile wide inner moon of Saturn performed very well in front of Cassini’s cameras, displaying its heavily-cratered surface and showing off its trademark Herschel crater; at 88 miles wide…

Moons Near and Far…and More to Come!

246-mile-wide Mimas (foreground) and 70-mile-wide Epimetheus bracket a section of Saturn’s rings in this color-calibrated image from the Cassini spacecraft, taken in October 2009. Happily, we can expect to see beautiful images like this for another  7 years…NASA has extended the Cassini mission until at least 2017! During that time Cassini will transition into its…

Composition in White

949-mile-wide Rhea floats in front of the rings and the brightly-lit face of Saturn in this image from Cassini, taken on November 8. The face of Saturn, overexposed here in order to see detail in the rings and Rhea, appears as bright white, making a dramatic studio backdrop. The planet’s uppermost atmospheric haze is also…

No Editing Required

  This raw image from Cassini requires no editing to be presentable…..it’s simply a beautiful shot of Mimas hovering in front of the rings with Saturn’s shadow cast across them. Simple, untouched beauty at its best. That little Cassini….he’s getting good at this. 🙂 Image: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute  

It’s a Marvelous Night for a Moondance

In another animation made from raw images taken by Cassini, Mimas passes in front of Rhea (?), whose face is partially covered by Saturn’s rings…which in turn are darkened by the shadow of the planet itself. I removed distracting background stars, as well as dust and streaks often seen in raw photos. Rhea is 950…

Just Passing By

Tethys, shown in my previous post, orbits Saturn outside the rings in this animation made from 17 raw images taken by Cassini. After passing the dark side of Saturn Tethys follows the curve of the rings, and is passed on the “inside track” by the smaller Mimas (top). Meanwhile another moon, perhaps Atlas or Pandora,…

Cast Shadow

The shadow of Mimas falls across the Cassini Division in this beautiful natural color, wide-angle view from Cassini’s camera. Views like these are possible only once every 15 years, as Saturn’s spring and autumn equinoxes bring its rings and moons into horizontal alignment with the equitorial plane of the solar system and the light of…

Streaking Past Pallene

The bright point of light in this raw image isn’t a star. It’s one of Saturn’s 61 known moons, the tiny 3-mile-wide Pallene (pronounced pal-LEE-nee). This little moon’s orbit is between those of much larger Mimas and Enceladus, around 131,000 miles out from Saturn. Only recently discovered in 2004 by the Cassini team, not much…

A Procession of Moons

  With Saturn angled such that its ring plane is aligned with Earth’s orbit, its rings appear as a thin band and several of its moons can be seen crossing its face in this photo, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope on February 24, 2009. The smaller moons closer to the rings are, left to…

Glamour Shot

  A nicely-modeled Mimas, in sunlit backlighting and a soft cast from reflected light off Saturn. Taken by the Cassini orbiter on January 23 at a distance of 316,ooo miles. (Mimas is about 246 miles wide.) Image credit NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute